Free vs Paid Online Dating Sites

match.com offers an online dating service for a fee

With so many free online dating sites out there, a common question is “why does anyone pay to use websites like match.com”? Well, free sites and paid sites both have their advantages and disadvantages and in this article we’ll take a look at them. Paid sites will either have a membership fee, or will charge to be able to message other members.

Keep in mind that many of the “free” sites actually use the “freemium” business model: this means that you can use their service for free, but they offer extra “premium” features for a fee. These features may include things like the ability to see who has been looking at your profile, improved search function or being able to do more with your own profile.

Free Dating Sites

Advantages

  • They are free to use, or in the case of freemium sites like pof.com they can be used for free if you don’t need certain more advanced features.
  • Because it doesn’t cost anything to use, the membership of the free sites is normally very large. This isn’t always an advantage though, as we see below.

Disadvantages

  • Because members do not need to have a credit card to pay to use the site, scammers usually prefer to use the free sites to find their victims as they can keep their own identity completely hidden.
  • As these websites do not receive any member fees, the site features are often not as good – or as advanced – as the sites you pay to use.
  • Because they are free to use, not every member is looking for a partner. Sometimes people join to see if their friends are on there, others may be just wanting to play around. Some join just to interact with others to boost their ego or self-esteem. This is more common than you may think.
  • Because it doesn’t cost anything to use the site, people will create profiles and then decide they can’t be bothered. This means many of the profiles are “abandoned”.
  • It’s not always the case, but you will usually find that you waste a lot of time dealing with the people mentioned in the previous two points.
  • If you are looking for a partner who is employed in a more professional line of work like a doctor, accountant or CEO, you are going to find less on these sites. Professionals tend to value their time very highly, and are happy to pay a fee to filter out things (or people) that will waste their time.

Paid Dating Sites

Advantages

  • The paid sites tend to attract a higher percentage of members who are genuinely looking to meet someone special.
  • Site features are often better: this may mean more options for profiles and more sophisticated search functions. This makes it easier – and usually faster – to find someone who is compatible.
  • If you use the free sites you will probably find that the reply rate to your messages can be disappointing. This can be due to the higher volume of messages being sent, abandoned profiles or the lack of sincerity of some members. The response rate on paid sites is usually far better.
  • You will almost certainly find your time more productive using the site when all members are committed enough to pay in order to find someone else. You are likely to encounter less time-wasters and undesirables.
  • You are less likely to be scammed by anyone as members are generally required to use a credit card, and scammers prefer not to leave any traces like credit card transactions. This means they are more likely to target users of the free sites.

Disadvantages

  • The only disadvantage is that you have to pay money to use the service. But as explained, the fee can really be considered an advantage in many ways  as it gives you some considerable benefits.

Conclusion

Having used both free and paid dating websites, we believe it’s usually well worth the money to use the paid sites for the reasons listed above.

That said, if you are unsure about whether internet dating is for you, you may prefer trying out one of the free sites to see what it’s like. If you do and find the experience frustrating, please remember that you may find the paid sites are much more enjoyable to use and get you better results.

If you have any questions about particular dating sites or about how to get the most out of online dating, check out our community forums!

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